First Impression: The Onboarding Experience

By Carlos Yupanqui • October 20, 2020

HR is overwhelmed these days. The pandemic has created a tremendous disruption to daily operations; there is a sudden spike in work from home (WFH) inquiries. Mental health is now a topic in staff meetings (and has even caught the attention of compliance and risk management). How do you strike up a conversation with decision-makers amongst all the chaos? Focusing on the often-overlooked topic of onboarding is a hidden opportunity in today’s world.

Onboarding: Pre-COVID

Recall back to the last time your company onboarded you, prior to the pandemic. HR greets you at the entrance, initial introductions occur, and a tour of the office is given. You make a stop at the break room—this is where your job training really begins. You take mental notes during a demo of the fancy espresso machine, and a few more hello’s take place as you cross paths with new coworkers that are rushing to grab breakfast. After observing the inventory of snacks and beverages and memorizing which cabinets have the cutlery, you both take your cappuccinos to a conference room to begin your new hire orientation.

Onboarding: Post-COVID

The universal story above is no longer and has become a distant memory; most offices are completely closed down. The espresso machine has been unplugged and dismantled for months, and the fridge and snack bar are empty. What is most concerning: the human connection has been entirely removed from the first impression.

HR needs technology solutions to answer new types of questions such as COVID regulations, which continuously change and differ based on geography. In pre-COVID days, it would typically be sales hires that would require WFH resources (e.g., furniture, monitors, ergo peripherals, mobile hotspots). Today, all hires require WFH packages and this usually entails a lot of inquiries to office coordinators and HR. There is no longer the simplicity of guiding new hires to the office cafeteria; office administrators have suddenly inherited a major logistical project to provide catered lunch delivery to all hires and existing employees.

HR Cannot Afford to Neglect the Onboarding Process

The onboarding experience is a lasting impression that has potential ramifications long after the first day. According to Harvard Business Review, 20% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment. However, reaching the 45-day milestone does not necessarily mean that HR is out of the woods. According to, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.

Hiring Barista is the Solution.

Espressive Barista can play a vital role in the onboarding experience. Having an AI-based virtual support agent (VSA) as a member of the HR team would bridge the human connection gap.

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